The Ripple Effect

There’s been a lot of talk lately in writers’ realms about the rapid increase in piracy of digital books.

I thought we’d talk about this today.

I haven’t weighed in much on this in the past, because pirated digital books aren’t unlike sales of used books or stripped books. Like the sale of stripped books – i.e. paperbacks without their covers – the unauthorized sale of digital books is illegal. That’s why it’s called piracy – the digital content is stolen. Typically, a user downloads the content for free.

The reason I haven’t gotten too agitated in the past is that I’ve assumed that – like used or stripped books – the people downloading pirated digital books are people who have no intention of buying the book new. I try authors who are new to me at the library or at the used book store or with remaindered titles. If I like their work, I will buy it new after that. I assume that there are lots of people on tight budgets who like to try new things and have thought that this was a comparable digital situation.

The big difference between used books, stripped books and digital books is that a digital book can be sold over and over again. A used book was bought once, at least. A stripped book has never been sold, but there are a finite number of physical copies in the world. Not so for digital books. A single digital copy can generate an infinite number of illegal copies.

This is having an enormous impact upon book publishing, one that has vastly accelerated in the past six months. It is not an understatement that publishing as we know it is in jeopardy. And I am thinking that this is because a lot more people who WOULD have bought a legitimate copy of a book are now buying pirated versions.

I recently received a statement for WHISPER KISS and the digital sales are way down from previous Dragonfire titles. It’s possible that these are early numbers. It’s also unlikely that sales would drop when sales of e-readers are growing at such an astronomical rate. So, while I doubt that pirates read the blogs of authors, readers and fans might.

I’d like to give you something to think about.

When you choose a pirated copy over a legitimate one, you might be happy to get the book you want for free. But what happens in this transaction is that the publisher does not get paid. There are a lot of people who don’t care much about this or worry too much about the profit margins of multinational conglomerates. There are a lot of people who think publishers set the prices of digital books too high. There are a lot of people who think that books should be free.

But when the publisher doesn’t get paid, the author doesn’t get paid.

When authors don’t get paid for their work, they don’t have a whole lot of reason to keep doing it. Or, they might have to get another job, one that doesn’t leave them time to write.

It is only reasonable for authors to be compensated for their creative work.

Here’s another thing to think about – my plan is for there to be thirteen Dragonfire novels. At this point, only eight are contracted for publication. If you choose a pirated version of DARKFIRE KISS, for example, over a legitimate edition, that may have a profound impact on the completion of this series. Books 9 through 13 may never be contracted or published – and if I’m working at Walmart to pay for my groceries, I won’t have time to write those books just so you know how the story ends. Even if I write them so I know how the story ends, I might not be inclined to give those stories away to the people who eliminated my livelihood.

If you like a series or the work of an author and you want to read more, you need to buy legitimate copies of the work.

So, think twice about the ripple effect of your choices.

4 thoughts on “The Ripple Effect

  1. HERE HERE Deb, and I am a stickler for the correct way to do things. I get a lot of arcs (advanced readers copies) of books and some like you know pre-pubbed digital reads. I NEVER give away my arcs, first of all they’re uncorrected proofs so in many cases the cover and what’s inside the book changes on it’s way to final pub date, and second the publisher or author trusted me to only use the arc for review purposes.
    I have an e-reader but only get e-arcs when the printed books are not available as I enjoy reading a paper book. I implore all of you readers out there to have respect for what you’re doing, do the right thing. One of Deb’s books only costs new under $10 and the e-version is less than that. If you can’t afford that, your local library will have it and after a few months there will be used copies available for pennies on the dollar, but at least you’ll be upholding the law and letting these authors eat, and you’ll be letting them continue doing what they want, continuing their dream of being writers.
    So Do The Right Thing Please !

    Debbie Haupt


    • Thanks, Debbie!

      And thanks, Steph!

      I’m afraid there’s going to be a big shake-up in the next year as a result of this trend.



  2. Thanks for explaining it like this. Not that I need to be told that piracy is stealing but people really need to know that their favorite books and authors are put in jeapordy whenever they don’t pay for a book. Even though I’ve receive ARCs of for review I still purchase finished copies when they come out. One, because I like the way they all look on my bookshelf and two because I like to support my authors.


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